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Congo Beat
June 22, 2017

First Congregational
United Church of Christ 

1000 S. Cooper Street
Memphis, TN  38104 

This featured photo might look strangely plain to you ... but to many of us this is an inspired masterpiece!  It's  the Hub's new tile floor, laid down by Mark Allen and his trusty troop of exhausted volunteers! See more photos below.

We worship on Sunday mornings at 10:30 a.m.

We Believe ...
  • That God created the world, and that every single one of us has good work to do in life. 
  • Our "good work" has to do with living in ways that reflect God's agenda of love, joy, compassion and hope for the world and all its creatures, even in the midst of struggle.
  • Jesus showed us how to do this.  He had radical trust in the Goodness of God and our ability to share God's agenda of life for the world.  We can have this trust and share this agenda too, by following in his way.
  • We feel more alive when we're living from our sense of connection - with God, with each other, and with life itself.

Notes from our Pastors: 

I was delighted to participate as a session leader in a conference at Yale Divinity School last week.  "Dancing into Mourning:  The Church Responds to Violence" was an opportunity to share some of our First Congregational - Memphis story as we create a community that offers healing and future, even in a city that is plagued with violence.  Violence touches all of us - regardless of our setting - and it challenges us to choose faith over fear.  

How grateful I am to be part of a community where I continue, each and every week, to learn more about what it means to live the Gospel!  It was easy to share stories and inspiration I gain from being part of this church commu nity!

By the way ... have you thought about inviting a friend to worship this summer?  Most people come to a new church for the first time because someone has invited them.  Think about folks you know who are looking for a church, a community, a network of friends or some meaningful ways to become part of the community - and INVITE THEM to First Congregational!

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Dear First Congo Family and Friends,

I am anticipating Monday, the day to begin a week of chemo treatments, with gratitude.  Not because I am in physical discomfort, or because I am a masochist.  I am grateful for treatment to remove cancer cells that would take my life if left untreated.  It was my visit to my gynecologist, whose rectal smear marched me to the gastro-endocrinologist to get a colonoscopy... asap!  

When I think of all the uninsured, working poor, low income women and girls, who have no access or rely on the endangered Planned Parenthood's gynecology services to help them maintain the health of their reproductive organs, I shutter!  So many women in Memphis, Tennessee, the United States, and the world are unable to access the health care maintenance that promises long lives with their loved ones as daughters, friends, sisters, wives, mothers, aunts, grandmothers.  

That should not be our reality, but it is. Many of you reading this don't have access to health care.  Our nation is in a moral, political and economic health care crisis!  

For now, I have the access I need.  That is why I am filled with gratitude for chemo, radiation, their side effects, and all the healing hands and hearts overseeing my care. They include yours!

A n n o u n c e m e n t s
Join us at our
After church THIS Sunday in the Fellowship Hall 

Do you want one of these at YOUR house?
An anonymous & generous First Congo member has purchased 30 copies of this sign for 2 reasons:  1) to make them available to those who would like to share these words in their own yard, and 2) to offer them as a fundraiser for the church!  We'll have the signs available in the sanctuary this Sunday and you're invited to make a donation of your choice to purchase one.  If we run out - we'll order more!

Adult Forums 
Sund ays at 9:45 a.m. in Classroom B
The topic for  next Sunday's Adult Forum is  "The Desert Fathers and Community; or even introverts need community.  Why they need it and how they find it."   Pick up a cup of coffee and join us!

Immigrant Allies Workshop
THIS Saturday at 10:00 am at Caritas House
First Congregational has an active support group for immigrants who may be facing deportation or stresses related to the deportation of others.  We're partnering with folks from Binghampton to offer support.  Our first training - "How to be an Ally" - takes place on this Saturday at 10:00 a.m. at Caritas House (corner of Merton and Everett - with big hedges and a big porch - hard to miss).  Two immigration lawyers will be there to discuss many options for us as citizens, and a representative from Latino Memphis may be there to talk about the work to get municipal ID's and recognition for consular ID's.  We are hopeful to find ways to help as we hear the options and the needs.

Good Books, Good Friends
We'll gather at 5:00 pm on NEXT Sunday, July 2nd, at the home of Sue Westmoreland (1589 Goodbar) to enjoy a discussion on Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada.  For more information about this monthly reading group, contact

Summer Trivia Night
Make your reservations for our ever-popular Trivia Night on Saturday, July 29th.  Put together your team of six players, or register to be added to growing team by emailing replying to this newsletter or email The cost to play is $20 per person & bring your own snacks & beverages!

Strength in Numbers! 
A time for our special gifts during this
Season of Pentecost

Pentecost is the season when we celebrate the Holy Spirit that we experience through our connections with God and each other ... our inspiration to live and work together in love, joy, compassion and hope - right here at First Congo!

In our sanctuary is the large Strength-in-Numbers board, covered with small envelopes numbering 1 to 250.  We're all invited to think of a number that is special to us:  maybe the ages of our grandchildren, a house number for a place we loved; the date of a wedding anniversary or our parent's birthday ... and not to worry if someone else took your number - you can take several envelopes that add up to get to your total.  Please put your gift of this amount in the envelope(s) and place them in the offering plate at church - or you may mail-in your gift, or even make your donation online at - just be sure to note "Strength-in-Numbers" so we'll know your intention. 

Last year our Strength-in-Numbers added up to more than $11,000!  It was such a happy birthday gift that aided our pledged gifts for supporting another year in the busy life and work of First Congo.  We'll find out in August what THIS year's Strength-in-Numbers gift will be! 

This Week at First Congo:

We're going to miss this lovely family - ZB & Chris & Nathan Davis - who moved last week to Nashville for ZB to begin her PhD at Vanderbilt. We send our blessings with you, along with our congratulations & love for this next step of your journey.  Come back often to visit! 

Thanks to Rev. Teddy Crum (a.k.a. First Congo's Church Moderator) for preaching an enjoyable and inspirational sermon last Sunday, as Pastor Cheryl was out of town.

Our worship assistants last Sunday included (right) DaMarcus Randle lighting our worship candle, and (below) Janice Hill, our layreader.

Put on your headphones or earbuds and then click on the links below to enjoy last Sunday's two anthems:

Muley never fails to captivate during the Children's Sermon!  Thanks to Kevin Williams for his talent and commitment to our children's ministries.

It was a special occasion & successful event last Friday evening at Amelia Lovel's Art Opening at Caritas Village - where her beautiful original art nearly sold-out!  Above is Amelia (giving her positive thumbs-up) with her family (from left) Sara, Anna, Julia & Zander, Lorraine and Gerald.

First Congo 

Senior Pastor:
Rev. Cheryl K. Cornish
901-278-6786 ext 1 

sonia staff shot
Associate Pastor:
Rev. Sonia L. Walker

Director of Mission:

Office Manager:   
Brenda Nichols
901-278-6786 ext 107 

Nikki Jones

Director of Food Justice Ministries:  Mark Ratay

Revolutions Bicycle Co-op  
Director: Sylvia Crum    

Art & Design Ministries:
Sam Griffin

Artist Intern:  
Ron Marion

Minister of Music:
Dennis W. Darling


Music Ministry Team:
Tamar Love


Music Ministry Team:   
Brennan Villines

Music Ministry Team:   
Chris Burgess

Music Ministry Team:
Lisa Gaddy

Juan Salter 
 Bryant Wilhite

 Mark Allen


Events Assistant: 
Danny Grubbs

Amy Shaw 

Minister of Child Care:
Kenitra Higgins

Sunday Nursery Care: 

Xan Lester  

Anitra Higgins

Hostel Memphis Staff 
Kim Kamga, 
Resident Manager 

Hostel Resident Advisors:
Dalton Jones
Ron Marion 
Jamie Jones
Parks Dlugach
Brandon Lever 

We're getting close to moving our Community Lunches, Food Pantry and Clothes Closet back into the Hub with it's beautiful new tile floor!  It's been a heart-lift to watch this laborious process so cheerfully managed by Mark Allen (at right with Food Justice Ministries workers, Antonio Hill and Carter Beard), with his volunteer installation team: Tim Allen (above), Stephanie Stowe, Benjamin Liggett, Bryant Wilhite, Sherrie Walker, Danny Grubbs and Keith Norman.  Our a/c system in that building is getting a new part hopefully next week - after which we'll be able to move back in. 

 Yesterday afternoon Pastor Cheryl enjoyed meeting with the Food Justice Ministries dedicated volunteers!  From the left are Alice Miller, Mae Yancey, Mark Allen, Antonio Hill, Janet Todd, Mark Ratay (Director of FJM), Carter Beard, Laurie Hook, Robin Lynch, David Lindstrom, Larry Wilson, Angela Redden, and Pastor Cheryl.  There are at least this many more volunteers who are not pictured - it takes a lot of folks to prepare lunch for about 100 folks every weekday, as well as provide a clothes closet and food pantry!  If you'd like to get involved in this loving ministry - just reply to this newsletter and we'll get you connected right away.

We've gotta show one more happy photo from Revolutions "Wrench & Ride Bike Camp 2017" - and I'll bet this makes you smile! Congratulations to Sylvia Crum for another successful summer camp program!

Look what's
happening in


Our free Community Lunches are served at Cafe Congo on weekdays at 11:00 am till 1:00 pm.
The Food Pantry  is open on Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays from 11am till 1pm.
The Clothes Closet is open Tuesdays & Thursdays from 11:00 am till 1:00 pm.  

If you'd like to help provide groceries - please pick up the following items that are regularly needed for our lunches:
- olive oil           
- regular Ranch Salad Dressing
- stick butter      
- plastic grocery bags
- milk                 
- yellow or white onions
- celery             
- tomatoes

Summertime brings youthful volunteers to our Food Justice Ministries!  (above)  Anthony Hill, an advanced placement student at Hollis F. Price Middle College High School, volunteers with the Food Justice Ministries one day every week. Anthony is beloved by guests and other volunteers alike.  (left) 12 year old Carmelo, has started volunteering in the kitchen with his father, Antonio Cannon.  While school is out, Carmelo enjoys having something useful to do! 
Our Food Justice Ministries for the month of June have been given by Keith Norman, in memory of his father, Paul Norman.

Also located in The Hub ...

Fair Trade Store

OPEN on Saturdays
9am till 3pm
& after church on Sundays. 

Here's What's Coming Up ...  

Thursday, June 22:  
  • The Hub is OPEN for Cafe Congo and the Clothes Closet:  11:00 am - 1:00 pm
  • Mission Development Committee Meeting:  5:00 pm in Pastor Cheryl's office
  • Revolutions Bicycle Co-Op Open Shop:  6:30 - 9:00 pm
  • Open Art Studio:  6:30 - 9:00 pm

Friday, June 23:  
  • The Hub is OPEN for Cafe Congo and the Food Pantry: 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM
  • MAGY Meeting:  7:00 - 10:00 pm in the Fellowship Hall

Saturday, June 24:   
  • Global Goods Fair Trade Store is OPEN:  9:00 am - 3:00 pm in The Hub
  • "No Hungry Seniors" Food Pick-up:  9:00 am at the back entrance of The Hub
Sunday, June 25:    
  • Adult Forum:  9:45 in Classroom B
  • Children's Sunday School:  9:45 am in Classroom D
  • Nursery:  Childcare is available for babies & toddlers from 9:45 till noon in Classroom C
  • Coffee & Fellowship:  9:45 am till 10:30 am in the Commons
  • Worship:  10:30 a.m. in the Sanctuary
  • Children's Church:  After the children's sermon at worship, our leaders will take the children to Classroom D where they will have their own "church" and special activities.  Parents may pick up their children here after worship.
  • Global Goods Fair Trade Store is OPEN after Church
  • Congregational Potluck Lunch & Quarterly Meeting:  After church in The Hub
  • Open Shop in Revolutions Bicycle Co-Op:  2:00 - 6:00 pm
Monday, June 26:

  • The Hub is OPEN for Cafe Congo and the Food Pantry: 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM
  • Revolutions Bicycle Co-Op Open Shop:  6:30 - 9:00 pm
  • Open Art Studio:  6:30 - 9:00 pm
Tuesday, June 27:
  • The Hub is OPEN for Cafe Congo and the Clothes Closet:  11:00 am - 1:00 pm
  • Tuesday Evening Prayer:  6:00 pm in the Sanctuary
Wednesday, June 28
  • The Hub is OPEN for Cafe Congo and the Food Pantry:  11:00 am - 1:00 pm
  • Marketing Committee Meeting:  5:30 pm in Pastor Cheryl's Office
  • Vocal Choir Rehearsal:  7:00 pm in the Sanctuary
Thursday, June 29: 
  • The Hub is OPEN for Cafe Congo and the Clothes Closet:  11:00 am - 1:00 pm
  • Revolutions Bicycle Co-Op Open Shop:  6:30 - 9:00 pm
  • Open Art Studio:  6:30 - 9:00 pm

Trivia Night!
Saturday, July 29th

    Cooper Young Festival   

Saturday, September 16th
Taste of Cooper Young
Thursday, October 5th


First Congregational Leadership 2017:



     Moderator,            Co-Moderator,             Secretary,             Treasurer,       Assistant Treasurer, 

    Teddy Crum           Kevin Williams        Angela Richards      Joe Pfeiffer              Bill Tupis                                       



Committee Chairs:
        Ushers                 Hospitality               Finance             Christian Education         Facilities              Nominating 
 Caroline McCraw     Angela Moore       Janet McCraw            Joe Hawes           Sammye Hudgens      Carla Orr 
    Rubenstein                                            Rubenstein 

Mission Development Committee:
 Judy Drescher   Cecelia Johnson-Powell  Joe Pfeiffer   Carla Peacher-Ryan    Jackie Nerren      Keith Norman

   Special Ministries & Program Coordinators:
vernessa sonia marsha

Tuesday Evening Prayer & Circle of Trust, Rev. Catherine Dixon
Good Books Good Friends, Sue Westmoreland
Global Goods, Jackie Nerren
The Pilgrim Center Director, Dr. Joel Chapman
Children's Sunday School, Dr. Marsha Walton
MAGY (Memphis Area Gay Youth) Chair, Board of Directors - Maria Hubbard


  First Congo Quick Links
First Congo Website & Online Donations: 

First Congo FB Link   

Freedom Journeys: 
Freedom Journeys for Youth, College & Adult Groups 

 Hostel Memphis & Retreat Center: 

Cooper-Young Conference Center:
Global Goods Fair TradeGG on Facebook 
The Pilgrim Center for Counseling:  The Pilgrim Center  901-844-HELP (4357)   901-278-6786 ext 8
 Revolutions Bike Co-Op: 

MAGY (Memphis Area Gay Youth)  MAGY on Facebook
Cooper Young Community Farmers Market: